• Ex-NA deputy speaker told to file response on de-seating plea; registrar asked why plea was not fixed for five years
• Justice Isa says court may have to review ‘entire 2018 elections’ process in case of any wrongdoing

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday wondered why former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri should not be proceeded against for allegedly abrogating the Constitution when he prorogued the assembly session without conducting a vote on the no-confidence motion against ex-premier Imran Khan.

In the deputy speaker ruling case, former Jus­tice Mazhar Alam Mian­khel had penned an additional note, observing that the conduct so refle­cted by the deputy spea­ker was unbecoming of such a prestigious position.

“It was for the parliament to consider whether the act by deputy speaker attracts Article 6 (high treason) of the Constitu­tion or not.”

The observation had come after a five-judge Supreme Court on April 7, 2022, had denounced the April 3 ruling of the deputy speaker on the no-trust move by holding it contrary to the Constitution.

On Tuesday, CJP Isa who presided over the three-judge bench summoned Qasim Suri in person with a direction to file a concise statement whenever the case will be taken up next month.

The court also asked the registrar to submit a report within three weeks on why Mr Suri’s appeal challenging his de-seating by the election tribunal through a Sept 27, 2019 order remained pending before the court.

On March 2, 2022, the Supreme Court had separated the appeal of Qasim Khan Suri, a PTI member from Balo­ch­istan, from 17 different election petitions and the petitioner remained a member of the assembly on a stay order by the court.

During the hearing, senior counsel Naeem Bukhari, who was representing Qasim Suri, requested that the present case had become infructuous. He said his client had resigned on April 16, 2022.

But the CJP took exception to the fact that the case remained pending for five years, while Mr Suri continued enjoying perks and privileges as the deputy speaker.

‘Constitutional crisis’

CJP Isa regretted that Mr Suri was responsible for the constitutional crisis. He deplored that after securing the stay order, the internal system of the Supreme Court was manipulated by not allowing the matter to be fixed for hearing.

In view of the discrepancies, such as the present matter, which has come to the fore, the court might have to look at the entire election process of 2018, the chief justice observed.

Naeem Bukhari argued that the apex court had suspended the tribunal’s decision in 2019, but the CJP wondered how the counsel could say the court suspended the decision when he himself had requested for the stay order.

“I have been a counsel of the high court and never in my life I ever tried to fix any case for hearing,” the counsel contended.

“Any damage done to this institution, in fact, is damage done to all of us,” the CJP observed, adding that the entire Supreme Court “belongs to all of us”.

“If something wrong happened, then the court will review the entire 2018 general elections,” the CJP added.

According to the CJP, whosoever violated the Constitution would have to face the consequences and vowed to end interference in the internal system of the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2024

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